By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — Identical twin brothers from the East Village — who attended Stanford and Princeton — have been indicted for allegedly stealing $2 million from more than 30 victims using investment scams.
Makara and Tsele Nkhereanye, who recently lived at 83 Second Ave., lied about investments they traded that belonged to firefighters, construction workers, a plumber, a chef, a postal worker, a grocery store manager and other victims, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said in a press conference.
In what prosecutors called a scam with a "Ponzi scheme aspect to it," a White Plains plumber was hit for $1 million — the largest amount lost by any one victim.
The brothers, both U.S. citizens of South African ethnicity, attended Princeton and Stanford universities and had legitimate jobs before using the victims' money to make risky investments that consistently failed, according to the DA.
Many of the victims were blue collar workers who received word-of-mouth referrals about the brothers' purported investment successes.
The brothers, both 38, lied to the victims about earning profits as high as 23 percent in a single month in a racket that lasted from January 2005 to June 2009, prosecutors said.
"They apparently didn't know there was no such thing as a free lunch," said Morgenthau, who is serving his last week of a 35-year stint as Manhattan District Attorney.
The brothers were each ordered held on $2 million bond or $1.5 million cash bail when they were arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon on grand larceny, forgery and securities fraud charges.
They face mandatory prison sentences if convicted.